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Liverpool FC are in the driving seat when FC Barcelona go to Anfield for the UEFA Champions League first knockout round second leg on Tuesday but visiting coach Frank Rijkaard is confident the holders can "spring a surprise" and overhaul the 2-1 deficit.
Away goals by Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise at Camp Nou have left Liverpool in a commanding position, though the last two UEFA Champions League winners will both attempt to reach this year's quarter-finals on the back of confidence-sapping domestic results at the weekend. Liverpool conceded a 90th-minute goal when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Premiership leaders Manchester United FC, while Barcelona lost top spot in the Primera División to title rivals Sevilla FC in a 2-1 away defeat.
The tactical skills of Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez were widely lauded after his side's impressive victory in Barcelona and he is convinced the players will not suffer an adverse reaction to the Manchester United reverse. "We played well on Saturday and deserved to win but we couldn't," said Benítez. "The positive thing is now we have another competition, another team and another plan," added the Spaniard, who revealed he expects Barcelona to have Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi featuring in a three-strong attack.
Liverpool's lineup is famous for being a secret known only to Benítez until shortly before kick-off, but he will send his team out to attack Barcelona and not sit back on their slender advantage. "Our idea is to try to win. We need to think about this as a new game at Anfield with all our people behind us," Benítez said. "They have to come here and score twice but I suppose if there is any team in the world who can do that, it's Barcelona when they are clicking and playing as they can. We know we have enough quality in our team not to think about going for a draw."
Barcelona's only triumph against Liverpool came on their last visit to Anfield in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League second group stage, and the same 3-1 result would see them into the last eight as they need to win the return leg by a two-goal margin. The defending champions could also advance on away goals with a single-goal victory if they score three or more, but Barça boss Rijkaard refused to be drawn on a likely outcome. "I've left my crystal ball at home," he explained.
"But seriously, this is a great opportunity to put things right from the first leg," he added, insisting that the pressure is more on Liverpool as the home team. The Dutchman is expected to stick with the adventurous, flexible 3-4-3 formation he has deployed recently and Rijkaard, who stressed the need to attack "intelligently", said: "We've got a team strong enough to spring a surprise. Maybe we can go into it with the attitude that we don't have too much to lose."
Liverpool: Pepe Reina; Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio; Steven Gerrard, Mohamed Sissoko, Xabi Alonso, John Arne Riise; Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy.
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Carles Puyol, Lilian Thuram, Oleguer Presas; Xavi Hernández, Rafael Márquez, Andrés Iniesta, Deco; Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi.
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